What is a Truck’s Black Box?

June 30, 2023

Just about every modern vehicle has some type of recording device inside that keeps track of the operation of that vehicle. For a commercial truck, there are multiple devices that record everything that happens with the vehicle. This includes engine functioning, mileage, actions the driver takes, and more. Here, we want to discuss what a commercial truck’s “black box” is, particularly focusing on the electronic control module, the electronic logging device, and the event data recorder.

The Electronic Control Module

The electronic control module is the computer that operates a modern truck engine. Typically, this is the system that consists of various computers and sensors that monitor elements within the engine and vehicle performance, including transmission functioning, braking system, traction control, fuel injection, and more. The electronic control module is the system designed to signal whether or not there has been a fault, and if a fault is indicated, the “check engine” light becomes illuminated.

The Electronic Logging Device

An electronic logging device (ELD) is required in just about every single large commercial truck on the roadway throughout the United States. These devices have replaced exclusively handwritten logs that drivers used to keep track of their hours of service. An electronic logging device provides more accurate information about the driver and whether or not they are complying with hours of service requirements set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The Event Data Recorder

The event data recorder is what many people think of when they consider a “black box” in a commercial truck. This device can monitor a plethora of information related to the vehicle and the driver in the moments leading up to an “event.”

Some of the most common “events” that get recorded include sudden braking, sudden deceleration, deployment of airbags, seat belt tensioner activation, and any other vehicle actions that could indicate that a crash occurred. When there is a triggering event, information related to the vehicle will be preserved and recorded in the event data recorder. This includes the speed of the vehicle, whether or not cruise control was engaged, clutch application, wheel turning, brake application, and more.

Do You Need an Attorney?

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a truck accident caused by the negligent actions of a truck driver or trucking company in West Virginia, we encourage you to reach out to a Martinsburg truck accident attorney as soon as possible. An attorney with experience handling complex personal injury claims can investigate your case, handle interactions with insurance carriers and the trucking company, and work to recover the compensation you are entitled to. If necessary, your accident attorney can prepare a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Ultimately, the goal is to recover compensation for your medical bills, property damage expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering damages you experience.

An attorney will be essential when it comes to recovering information related to black box data. This includes obtaining data related to the electronic control module, the electronic logging device, as well as the event data recorder. It is not uncommon for trucking companies to try and prevent this information from coming out, particularly if they believe they will have liability for the incident.


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